25 September 2006

Making Good on a Mistake

I just read the following email for Apple:

From: iTunes Store Support

Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2006 2:41 AM

To: David Weiss

Subject: iTunes: Your recent TV show downloads

Dear David,

Due to a system error, you were recently charged for downloads that were meant to be free. You were incorrectly charged $11.94 plus tax for your recent download of the three ABC season finales on the iTunes Store. We will reverse the incorrect charges and you should see the credit within 7 days, depending on how quickly your credit card company processes the reversal.

Our customers are very important to us and we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.

Please accept these three video codes good for any $1.99 TV show or music video from the iTunes Store as part of our apology. You can redeem your codes by just clicking the links below.







If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our customer service team by replying to this email.



iTunes Store Team


Here are some things that make me feel like I actually matter to them, amidst the gazillion other folks that purchase stuff from them:

1. It's signed by "Kate", not "Some Random iTunes Drone" or worse yet "iTunes Store Team". It's really signed by someone's name! Kate, I thank you.

2. It was their fault and they are aware of it, before I even figured out there was a problem. Isn't that how it's supposed to be?

3. They are fixing the problem (refunding my credit card) but also giving me $$ for the hassle. Folks it's 12 bucks!

4. The email is text only, short and to the point.

5. I can actually REPLY to the email like a normal person! None of this "do_not_reply@company.com"

It's these little things that count. I'm biased already, but stuff like this just makes a customer for life! I've talked about customer support before, but I will happily pay more for support like this. It makes my day and amidst the many things that don't work right every day, it's nice to get an email that reminds me that there are some things working correctly even if "the system" is not. Thanks Apple. Thanks Kate.


joe said...

on a related note, Google gets a lot of flack for having bad, faceless customer support.
My first experience with Google Checkout was horrible. It was never very clear whether the problem was with Google or with buy.com. However, i spent 3 weeks worth of phone calls and emails buy.com's so-called customer support to settle my purchase (which was a cancellation - just cancelling the order took 1.5 weeks). Every experience I had with buy.com was terrible.

However, after 1 email to Google Checkout support, I was refunded my purchase amount, PLUS given $100 credit on my credit card for my trouble within a day of the request. Also a nice, personalized email to settle everything.
GG Google. Bad buy.com.

Anonymous said...

I received one of these mails about a year ago. They double-charged me for some songs I purchased. They also gave me a 5 song bonus ...
But the difference was: my mail was anonymous and it actually came from do_not_reply@apple.com ....
But that was a year ago, nice they changed that ...

Raymond said...

Yeah, I had great experiences with them too! In fact, I still use that reply-to to write to them with other problems, and still get a personal response! Not to mention that their AppleCare is so wonderful, when I had iPod issues last week I was able to get a replacement within 6 days (including weekends!) from the day I filed an issue. Amazing.

Pilky said...

I'm pretty sure I can top that, at least with my dad. He had an old Titanium PowerBook that broke several times during it's life, screen, case, battery, hard disk, logic board, optical drive, pretty much everything got replaced at one point or another. Then 5 days after his AppleCare ran out (3 years after he bought it) his screen died. He phoned up Apple and they said they'd fix it because it had had so many problems and also fix a crack in the case that would have been a cosmetic flaw but was causing shards of the metal case to fall inside (likely due to the display hinge being too tight).

So they replaced the case and the monitor but it still wouldn't work, so they ordered up a logic board. 5 weeks later the logic board still hadn't arrived so someone from Apple contacted my dad and offered him a brand new Powerbook and to even match the ram in his old one. Now of course not everyone can expect that but I'm guessing it was due to the extremely long wait and the amount of problems in the past.

Of course not everything is happy. In one previous case someone repairing his PowerBook managed to crack the case and they emailed him saying they'd found this damage and it would cost £300 to fix it. In the end they replaced it for free with an apology

iCan said...

I had a similar experience when I downloaded a music video which turned out to be a short edit, rather than the full video. I sent an email to point this out, they refunded my money, gave me a free song, and took the video down the same day.


Conversely, I had terrible trouble getting AppleCare to fix my PowerBook - the first time, it came back with the original fault unfixed, and obvious (new) damage to the case.

So, iTunes Store good, PowerBook repair people bad. In my limited experience, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I got the same e-mail (also from "Kate", interestingly enough), although I only bought two videos, so I got two free ones, not three.

I've had a couple of other mixups with the iTMS, but I've never had to complain -- in fact, I usually don't even realize it's happened until I get an e-mail returning my money and offering a few free downloads.

Anonymous said...

My laptop was recently stolen and I hadn't backed up all of my iTMS music to an external drive. I contacted Apple about the possibility of re-downloading the music (since it was music that I did "own", afterall). They were very sympathetic and let me download 600 dollars worth of music again without a hitch.

Anonymous said...

Those codes didn't work!

Anonymous said...

Sadly this level of support isn't mirrored by .Mac in my experience :-(

Anonymous said...


Please reply to my email to get help with your codes. Be sure the codes we sent you are in your email to support. We can research what exactly happened to the codes and get you on your way faster, if you do.

Kate Wormington
Sr. Manager, Customer Experience
iTunes Store

Anonymous said...

That is great customer service.

One thing though:
Isn't 2x3 6, not 12? I don't think they gave you 12 bucks...

David Weiss said...


Yes, they gave me $6. The $12.00 I was referring to was the amount they charged my credit card incorrectly. My point was that for such a "small" mishap, they sure were going to great lengths to make it right.

David Weiss

Anonymous said...

I've had to deal with the iTunes Music Store support folks before and my experience was much like yours. They're friendly, helpful and efficient. Come to think of it, I had a similarly positive encounter with the AppleCare folks too. Apple makes mistakes but they tend to admit it when they do and then they do whatever it takes to make things right. There's a reason Apple users are so loyal.

Anonymous said...

psst.. you should take off Kate's email so she doesn't get spammed by some web crawling bot

David Weiss said...

Done. Kate's email removed. Thanks for the pointer.

David Weiss

Anonymous said...

I'm almost a month into a pretty awful customer service problem with the iTunes Store. The fact that there's no phone number one can call to gain support is a pretty serious pain when each email response takes multiple days and it takes multiple emails to get a resolution.

mooP said...

I just wanted to pipe up and say that I used to manage one of the groups that handled iTunes Music Store issues. Like all CS places, we had different policies and procedures, but Apple does a pretty good job trying to help a customer out with any mistakes or problems they may have. We had a turn around time of 24 hours, and were able to hit it regularly.

And yes, if it was signed Kate, then it really was Kate who dealt with your issue!

Anonymous said...

Corrupted file purchases have been corrected simply and easily. However, other "risks" of the service have not been manageable... To me the following also equates to poor customer service...

I have spent over $2000 in the last two years buying music, movies, TV shows, and audio books from iTunes. In July of last year, my laptop was stolen during a business trip. The day before, I had pruchased over $100 worth of audio books and music to listen to while traveling. No DVD-Rs with me, so I didn't back-up before my laptop was stolen the next day. (Snatch and run in New York City). T

here is no way to re-download the purchases. Customer service doesn't care... Then today, I purchased Season 5 of a television series but Season 4 started to download instead. I've already purchased Season 4, but I got billed again for it anyway! I contacted iTunes to "report a problem" and they copped an attitude and offered one video download credit which they made the point of saying they will never offer again. I just wasted $40 and I don't even think it was my fault, or my problem. I think their website had a glitch but I am paying for it, and they have the gall to be rude to me!

I don't know how many customers they have that average spending $1000 a year with them, but I can't imagine it is a very high percentage. Yet, for a should be "preferred" customer like myself, they still treat me rudely and "steal" my money for nothing. I have 7% losses over problems that were beyond my control... That is simply too much risk. No more big ticket item purchases on iTunes. I will buy my albums, my movies, my TV seasons at a bricks and mortar store and save the hassle of having to download and then burn back-up discs... Plus, my purchases will no longer risk turning into expensive digital vapor!

iTunes has records of everything I have ever purchased. Why can't I get it back when the unthinkable happens the day after I download it, or even a year later for that matter?

iTunes knows I haven't downloaded the Season 4 that accidentally got purchased through a website glitch or some kind of unthinkable error on my part... I've already bought it before. I haven't even downloaded it this second time around. But they are still charging me $39.99 while only giving me credit for one $2.99 video? The risk is simply too high. iTunes isn't worth it!

G. Whittle